We are a family of 4 from Canada that made the "jump" into cruising life back in January of 2015. Our boat is called Element. We haven't looked back since.
We were the typical family, living in the suburbs with two careers, two kids, two dogs, and saving up for our next vacation. With both of us working it was always a juggling act, trying to get through life. I remember always juggling, with work, kids, daycare, meals, household duties....... ok, you get the picture. Of course I was unable to juggle them all perfectly and, sometimes a ball or six would fall. I would think to myself, "How important was that one that just fell?" It felt like a never ending cycle. One year when we were looking into a vacation spot, Shaun was pricing out an all inclusive Mexico vacation. They wanted to charge us full price for our 4 year old, so he started looking into a sailboat charter in the BVI's. It ended up being our first charter and where we would seriously consider changing our lives. Before we had even considered buying a boat, our family had been members of a local cruising club in White Rock, BC. We were taught from scratch how to sail safely in the bay, and in the Gulf and San Juan Islands. We would progressively take longer trips and when we had kids would strap them into car seats to sail across to the islands. In fact, I was so pregnant one trip that I couldn't even close up my foul weather gear.
Once we finally decided that the cruising lifestyle was going to be our goal, we created an "exit strategy". This strategy would become the new way of life, until we could achieve our goal. Sometimes it was easy, and other times it was more challenging. It was a love/hate relationship.
Our strategy consisted of many parts, including selling our home and all of it's "stuff", exiting from a family business (mine), my husband leaving a company that he had been with for 19 years, flying overseas to find the perfect boat for us as we wanted to start in the Mediterranean, renting a small temporary apartment and, finally moving onto the boat. It would take us three years to achieve our goal with ups, downs and some sacrifices. Our daughters would learn how to let go of personal belongings, the freedom to have a pet, sharing a room, and the "normal" school environment. They would also face their first of many farewells from friends and a life that was convenient and considered normal.
We wanted to prepare ourselves properly for living in a smaller space. We achieved this by downsizing from a larger house, to an apartment and, finally onto the boat. Doing it this way allowed us to purge in stages. The bulk was purged once we sold the house, and then the rest once we moved out of the apartment. We ended up flying with 13 bags in total. These were the "things" that we considered necessary for our new adventure.
The downsizing process was tough, and emotional at first but, turned into a very freeing process. We realized that the majority of our belongings were just things that could be replaced in the future. We were able to sell or give away the majority of our things, keeping the items that we felt couldn't be replaced and, We were able to store these belongings in a rubbermaid bin in a family members attic.
Shaun, had always wanted to sail, and possibly live aboard a sailboat. For close to 10 years, he had been researching different sailboats. The boat selection was narrowed a little once we decided that we wanted a catamaran. By we, I mean me. He then focused on the specific brand that he preferred. That was a Catana. He had already been a member on the owners group, and knew what to look for and, what to avoid. In December 2014 our family headed to Europe to visit several used Catanas, and to choose the one that would fit our needs. Our new to us home ended up being in Mamaris, Turkey so, that was where our adventures began.
There were several other contributing factors that drove us to make a change in our lives. My Mom and Dad had retired and were doing the "snow bird thing", living part-time in Arizona and part-time on the West Coast of Canada. Shaun and I had visited them during this phase of their lives, and felt like we wanted something different. We also made the hard choice to continue with our plans even though my Dad got sick. This actually played a big role in our decision because, we knew that we weren't guaranteed to be healthy at retirement age. Lastly, we wanted to do this while we were young enough to be able to handle the physical requirements of a sailboat. We worried of course about the kids but, figured that they are resilient and will become better human beings.
That is how we transitioned into boat life. It is a wonderful life. It can be loney at times but, also very fulfilling. It has taught us to seize every opportunity because, we don't know if it will present itself again.
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